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Pioneers in Green Beauty

photo by ComputerMiracles

Many companies are jumping on the green bandwagon. They’ve stopping using stuff like sulfates and parabens. They’re coming out with safer, earth-friendly products that contain fewer potentially harmful and synthetic ingredients – or they make it look that way at least. After all, it looks good for companies to be seen as “green.” It’s profitable. But some companies are genuinely concerned about being green and were green before it was fashionable. It’s evident in the products they make and in the way they do business.

Personally, I’ve been doing a lot more in recent years to practice the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Personally, I’ve been doing a lot more in recent years to practice the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle. Every little bit helps. When an entire company goes green, the environmental and social impact adds up quickly and I feel good supporting their businesses. In light of Earth Month and my interest in doing my part to be more environmentally and socially responsible, I’ve taken a closer look at some of the pioneers in green beauty – Jurlique, Living Nature, Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare, Suki, Tarte, and Weleda – to see just how green they really are. I’ve been very impressed. I also checked in with Liz Earle, founder of elegant, eco-friendly, award-winning Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare, about what it means for a company to be green. I also have recommendations on some of my favorite green goodies.

A Closer Look at Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare

Liz Earle Gift Set

Company Philosophy and the Ingredients
Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare uses what they call naturally active, botanical ingredients, which are sustainably sourced wherever possible. They use fairly traded ingredients – organic whenever possible – from sources that support local ecosystems to minimize environmental impact. Products do not contain mineral oil or genetically engineered ingredients and are never tested on animals.

Green Behind the Scenes

Literature arrives in wooden pallets that they convert into bird houses that are hung in trees around The Green House.

At the geo-thermally heated corporate headquarters in the UK, aka “The Green House,” they reduce, reuse, and recycle every day by doing things like having paperless meetings and composting kitchen waste on site. Most packaging for their products is made with recyclable materials. Future plans are to have packaging that’s 100% biodegradable and compostable. Newsletters and other marketing materials are printed on paper that’s a combination of recycled paper and paper from sustainably managed forests. Inks are vegetable-based. Literature arrives in wooden pallets that they convert into bird houses that are hung in trees around The Green House. They also plan to build a wildlife corridor to help owls, red squirrels, and other wildlife whose habitats can suffer in urbanized areas.

Liz was kind of enough to answer a few questions…

What inspired you to start LENAS and what drives you to develop new products and green business practices?
Liz: I have always had a passion for beauty, natural health, and well-being, and a fascination with the use of potent botanicals and ethically sourced natural ingredients in skincare. Despite having both worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, in 1995 my business partner and friend Kim Buckland and I had yet to discover a natural skincare range that suited my dry, eczema-prone skin and her combination/oily skin. As a result, our driving force for developing new products and green practices has always stemmed from our passion to create a skincare range that harnesses the highest quality, naturally active ingredients that really make a difference to all types of skin.  We offer a simple, no-fuss, and dependable routine that is also a pampering daily treat for everyone.

Why do you think it’s important to “green” beauty products and have environmentally friendly business practices?
Liz: Being a botanically-based skincare company we’ve always been aware of the benefits of working with our environment rather than against it. We rely so much on nature’s ingredients to ensure our products really work and believe in taking all the possible steps to counteract our environmental impact. Our company policy is to source the best ingredients. This means that we take each ingredient individually and investigate the best source. We don’t use an ingredient simply because it is organic, we take many factors into account (such as the country where it is grown, availability and sustainability) as this allows us to find the best sources. We are not driven by the desire simply to be an ‘organic’ range, but the best range.

What can we look forward to with LENAS in the coming year?
Liz: We’re working on some very exciting new product developments at the moment which will be launching throughout 2009 and 2010. These include expanding our sell-out Superskin range due to our high level of customer demand to include body, bust, and eye treatments. We’re also working on a fabulous new summer footcare range, a haircare line and a heavenly new fragrance.

Recommended Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare

My Recommendations
I’m really looking forward to her new products. I’ve found her skin care to be highly effective, lovely to use, chock full of beneficial ingredients, and free of gunk that’s potentially harmful to our health and the health of the planet. I’m a big fan of her award-winning Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser ($24.50), a delightfully refreshing and incredibly effective cleanser that also exfoliates and removes even the most stubborn makeup, and Superskin Concentrate ($70), a potent, naturally aromatic blend of nourishing plant oils, including healing, softening argan oil. It keeps my combination skin wonderfully balanced. Her body products, like the Orange Flower Botanical Body Wash ($21) and the Nourishing Botanical Body Cream ($30.50), are also quite lovely. Unlike most eco-friendly body washes made without sulfates, this one lathers up really well and leaves my skin soft, not dry, while the cream is incredibly rich and subtly fragrant. Available at lizearle.com and shops around the world, including Fred Segal.

More Green Greats

Here’s the green scoop on a few more of my favorite beauty lines – Jurlique, Living Nature, Suki, Tarte, and Weleda. These all have excellent, green products and business practices. By using products from these lines I don’t have to compromise on quality and I can feel beautiful inside and out, knowing that I’m supporting conscientious companies that help make our world a better place.

Jurlique
Company Philosophy and the Ingredients
According to Australian, eco-luxury skin care company Jurlique, they’ve been socially responsible for 25 years. Their philosophy is that beauty is defined by sustainable connections – to oneself, to the community, and to the earth. They make natural, plant-based products and are one of the pioneers in Biodynamic beauty products. Their Biodynamic products – which will be renamed Purely Age-Defying – contain no parabens, mineral oils, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic emulsifiers, artificial colours or fragrances, and are certified Biodynamic by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia. No products or ingredients are tested on animals.

JurliqueGreen Behind the Scenes

30 different varieties of plants and flowers are tended and harvested by hand.

They operate a 153-acre, self-sustaining organic and NASAA-certified (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia) biodynamic farm in South Australia where more than 30 different varieties of plants and flowers – including lavender, rose, marshmallow, licorice and calendula – are tended and harvested by hand to maintain the highest nutrient value and create high-quality, luxurious products with fantastic skin benefits.

In celebration of Earth Day, Jurlique is offering a special promotion now through April 25th to encourage customers to recycle. Shoppers who donate three empty Jurlique products at a Jurlique shop may choose a complimentary, deluxe sample of one of their bestsellers: Purely Age-Defying Eye Cream, Purely Age-Defying Facial Serum or an Herbal Recovery Neck Serum.

My Recommendations
I’ve only just begun using Jurlique products, upon the recommendation of friends, and am loving them. I love their Sun Lotion SPF 30+ ($58, in photo on right), a broad-spectrum sunscreen that smells wonderful (when’s the last time you used a sunscreen that smelled good?) and feels exceptionally comfortable and light, and their Rose Silk Finishing Powder ($36, in photo above on left), which also smells wonderful (from rose and lavender essential oils), looks very natural, and is light, silky, and beautifully skin perfecting and soothing. I definitely look forward to trying more of their products. Available directly from Jurlique, at destination spas, and at stores like Sephora and Barneys.

Living Nature
Company Philosophy and the Ingredients
Living Nature is a line of natural, fabulous, high-end skin care and cosmetics out of New Zealand. According to the company, it’s one of the first companies to produce skin care without synthetic preservatives and parabens. They proclaim that they’re passionate about using potent natural ingredients and being environmentally responsible. They make their products with many plants  found only in New Zealand with high quantities of bioactive ingredients.

Products are biodegradable and free of ingredients they consider potentially harmful, synthetic preservatives, mineral oils, herbicide or pesticide residues. No ingredients have been irradiated or genetically modified. They use no animal ingredients; and no products or ingredients are tested on animals.

Living NatureGreen Behind the Scenes

They use a carbon-neutral electricity supplier and collect their rainwater for reuse.

The company’s original mission statement 20 years ago, which they continue to follow, included a commitment to sustainable, profitable, and ecological business while promoting healthy vibrant skin. They’ve twice received the New Zealand Packaging Council’s Award for Excellence in Environmentally Acceptable Packaging. All packaging is 100% recyclable. They don’t use pumps, which can’t be recycled, and use biodegradable and recyclable cardboard packaging on cartons. Eyeshadow compacts are also made from biodegradable cardboard; and they use magnets to attach powders to reusable metal casings so no glue is required. Brushes are made with shorn goat hair so no animals are harmed in making them.

They also use a carbon-neutral electricity supplier, collect their rainwater for reuse, and among other things, collect food scraps for composting or to take home to feed their chickens. Yes, chickens.

My Recommendations
I especially like their makeup, which is lovely and luxurious. Their Luminous Pressed Powder ($37, in photo above) is made with natural minerals and has a beautiful, sheer finish that subtly reflects light. It contains Manuka oil, which is naturally antibacterial. Their Summer Bronze Pressed Powder ($37) looks very natural and gives a stunning, sun-kissed glow. Both come in elegant, black compacts that are refillable. The lipsticks ($37) are also incredibly creamy and moisturizing. Available directly from Living Nature, at shops and spas around the world and online eco-boutiques like Saffron Rouge.

Suki
Company Philosophy and the Ingredients
I’ve never come across a Suki product I didn’t adore. According to this skin care and cosmetics company, the line “represents not only 100% pure skin care from a core of integrity, but has evolved skin care to a new & innovative level – blending in high percentages of natural cosmeceuticals in 100% pure & organic formulas producing a truly results-driven, scientific line – 100% natural, inside & out.”

Suki products are made with high-performance, natural, organic, biodynamic, and food-grade ingredients. They support fair trade, organics, and local sourcing. The formulas, ingredients, and finished products are never tested on animals.

Suki Cleanser and MoisturizerGreen Behind the Scenes

Products are made by hand with virtually no carbon output.

Products are made by hand with virtually no carbon output and packaged in glass, because the company is against the use of plastics. They say plastic toxins can leach into products, leach out essential vitamins and botanical content, and that plastics are toxic to get rid of due to flawed recycling programs. Inks are biodegradable and vegetable-based. For packing and shipping, they only use organic, cornstarch peanuts and unbleached, newsprint papers.

They also actively support many non-profits, such as the Coalition For Consumer Information On Cosmetics, the American Botanical Council, the Organic Consumer’s Association, the Cancer Prevention Coalition, and the Alliance For A Healthy Tomorrow. Their printers and suppliers support environmental initiatives, including forest stewardship council’s certification, and use wind-powered energy.

My Recommendations
I’ve tried and recommended many Suki products in my product reviews. As I mentioned before, I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve used from the Suki line. Most recently, I tried a couple of their bestsellers and was thrilled with them. Their Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser ($29.95, in photo on left) is one of the best products I’ve ever used. A tiny amount of this scrubby cleanser exfoliates with natural sugar and organic rice powder, and foams up to thoroughly yet gently cleanse without sulfates. It feels and smells wonderfully refreshing with its organic lemongrass and chamomile extracts and leaves my skin glowing.

The Balancing Day Lotion ($31.95, in photo on right) is a lightweight moisturizer that’s a powerhouse of skin care benefits. It naturally prevents and diminishes blemishes, soothes redness, promotes cell turnover and collagen production, brightens, protects skin from free radicals, balances oil production, and reduces hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles – without clogging pores. The light texture is perfect this time of year as the weather gets warmer. Available at sukipure.com, Whole Foods, and online boutiques like skinbotanica.com.

tarte
Company Philosophy and the Ingredients
tarte is a unique cosmetics line that’s been both green and glamorous for the last ten years. They’ve got the nice, natural tones most green makeup lines carry. But they also have fun, vibrant, shimmery, trend-conscious colors in safe, eco-friendly formulations that are good for the skin. Products are made with antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetable pigments, are dermatologist and clinically tested – though not tested on animals – and are free of parabens, petro-chemicals, sulfates, synthetic preservatives and fragrance, phthalates, synethic dyes, talc, GMOs, gluten, butylene glycol, and propylene glycol. Instead they use “wholesome, skinvigorating™ ingredients that treat, nourish and protect skin, to help fix problems instead of simply hiding them.”

tarteGreen Behind the Scenes

Customers are helping to preserve the Amazon Rainforest.

They run an eco-office that’s all about reduce, reuse, and recycle. They use recycled office supplies, natural cleaning products, and energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances. New York employees use mass transit every day. They reuse packing materials to cut down on waste. And shopping bags, stationary, folders, and business cards are printed on recycled paper with soy ink.

They encourage customers to recycle with an incentive program that provides discounts when empty products are returned. They also support the Sustainable Amazon Partnership (SAP). With the purchase of every tarte product that has their t5 super fruit complex™, customers are helping to preserve the Amazon Rainforest through forest conservation, improved living conditions, and educational opportunities for communities in Brazil. And they support many other charities, such as the Breast Cancer Research Fund and the American Cancer Society.

My Recommendations
I highly recommend any of their cheek stains, which are gorgeous, easy-to-use, and are incredibly long-lasting. Their eyeshadows are smooth and silky and come in a beautiful array of colors. Their mascaras (Bottoms Up Lower Lash Mascara [$16] in photo) are some of the best I’ve ever used and truly stay put without irritating my eyes.  They’ve just come out with a brand new collection (see photo). I haven’t tried any of it yet but can’t wait to. Products are available at tartecosmetics.com, Sephora, and beauty.com.

Weleda
Company Philosophy and the Ingredients
Weleda has an incredibly long history of being green – 87 years worth. They take a holistic approach in creating certified all-natural, highly effective health and beauty products. According to the company, they “pioneered the use of Biodynamic® and organic ingredients in body care and medicines to promote natural harmony and health.” Products are never tested on animals and are free of synthetic ingredients like preservatives, fragrances, colorants, and no raw materials are derived from mineral oils and parabens.

Weleda Skin Food & Wild Rose DeodorantGreen Behind the Scenes

…plowing and harvesting 135 acres around the world to grow more than 300 healing plants and flowers without pesticides and chemicals.

They grew their first Biodynamic garden back in the 1920s. Now they practice Biodynamic® farming – plowing and harvesting 135 acres around the world to grow more than 300 healing plants and flowers without pesticides and chemicals. They also source ingredients from small and large farms, cooperatives, and cultivation projects and are committed to sustainable, fair-trade practices. They aim to create “a climate for positive social and ecological change.” They pay fair prices for crops and guarantee quantities from year to year to help farmers and the communities around them. They also help train and educate small farmers, assisting them in converting more farms into Biodynamic® or organic ones.

My Recommendations
Two Weleda products immediately spring to mind: Skin Food ($3-$17) and Wild Rose Deodorant ($9-$15). Skin Food is one of the richest moisturizers around. It can be used on face and body. This is a must in cold climates or if you simply have very dry skin. I mainly use it on my hands and keep a tube in my purse at all times. It smells wonderfully botanical from a blend of essential oils. I just started using the Wild Rose Deodorant. We’re having unusually hot weather in San Francisco so I doused myself with this today. Even though I’m hot and yucky, I can quickly refresh myself with this and smell literally like a rose from its mix of wild rose and neroli. It contains no aluminum salts, which are commonly found in antiperspirants and have been linked to aluminum deposits in the brain in Alzheimer’s patient (how much do I not want aluminum in my brain?). Weleda products are available directly from Weleda, and from many online retailers like drugstore.com and physical stores like Target and Whole Foods.

Do Tell

Do you use products from any of these lines? What do you think of how they do business? Are you more interested in companies that make green products and are socially and environmentally responsible? Do you wish that more companies would be more conscientious? Do tell.

P.S. Check out our regularly updated Beauty Resources page for some amazing beauty deals from companies like beauty.com, drugstore.com, Sephora, and skinbotanica.com.

SonjaPioneers in Green Beauty

Comments 7

  1. Pingback: Seriously Green Beauty | Breast Cancer Center

  2. tippy

    Oh yes of course, the Weleda Almond face cream is even better, the BEST they have. I highly recommend it

  3. Post
    Author
    Sonja

    ❤ tippy, I haven’t tried that one. But I love almond stuff. Will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

  4. K-Line

    I’ve used most of the Weleda products at one time or another. The lavender and rose body oils and the sage and rose deodorant are constants though…

  5. Nic

    Hey everyone,

    I saw the article about going green and being more eco friendly which is great. I love the fact that so many people are waking up to the fact that the planet is in trouble and that we need to act now in order to help out. I think with global warming creeping up on us, I think it is very important that we become more aware of trying to lower our carbon emissions, and try and do right by the planet. I think we can all do our little bit extra to try and help! At home I always shut the computer down rather than putting it to sleep, and always turn off electrics rather than leave them on stand by. These tips may seem small, but if everyone pulled together then I think we could really make a difference to the world. Another hint I have is that I now use e-Cards rather than buying paper cards. Not only are you saving money if you choose a free site, but more importantly, you are helping the environment by saving paper, and therefore less trees need to be chopped down! I have done my research and finally found the best free Environmentally Friendly e-Card site. It is really easy to use, which is great if like me you are not very good with computers! I really like this particular site as there is just so much choice. I know e-Cards are not for everyone but think of the environment it really is a great way to help out and do your bit! Kind Regards, Nic

  6. Post
    Author
    Sonja

    ❤ K-Line, I only just started using Weleda in the last year. I’m loving their stuff. Thanks for the tip on the body oils! I adore lavender and rose.

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    Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for sharing. I will definitely be subscribing to your blog.

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